After a (Jesus) 7-month hiatus, Of Human Bondage, or Human Bondage as we’re rebranding it, is back. Kit and I have functionally rebooted the project, with a co-host lineup change, new theme music, and losing the preposition. Otherwise it’s the same show, and Kit and I are still cracking jokes and being insightful about James Bond movies. We’re pleased to announce that our friend James Slater-Murphy of Pex Lives celebrity has joined us for our grilling of You Only Live Twice, an execrable piece of anti-Japanese schlock that we nonetheless have a lovely conversation about. As always we include a content warning, particularly for the troubling 10-minute segment at the head of the show, but afterwards things go quite smoothly. We hope you enjoy the show at least once; or even twice, to match your number of lives. …
The last episode of The Blacklist was hilarious. Red describes an international cabal – comprised of people in government and the private sector – who run the world behind the scenes, start wars, control the media, kill to protect their power, etc. It’s supposed to be so edgy. Dark, terrifying conspiracy. He has to get loads of investigate journos to attend his briefing in secret. They’re all stunned by what he says. But… he’s just describing the ruling class! Seriously, the ‘Cabal’ is just the capitalist military-industrial-media-government complex. But we’re supposed to be shocked by the existence of this group. Once informed about it, the Washington Post runs a front page story telling everyone of the breaking news. SHOCK NEW REVELATION: SMALL NUMBER OF POWERFUL PEOPLE ARE POWERFUL AND GET UP TO STUFF FURTHERING THEIR OWN POWER WITHOUT TELLING US! The evil director of the CIA looks at the paper in horror, like he’s thinking “oh no, now everyone knows!” It’s like structuring the big, dramatic denouement of a drama series around the astonishing revelation that water is wet, and having all your characters suddenly back away in terror from any rivers or taps they happen to be standing next to.
On the other hand, I can’t help thinking this is still more charged than a story in which such facts of life are ignored. Even presented as an outlandish, shocking revelation, it’s still presented. Even framed as a surprise, it’s still there.
Reminds me of the best Bond film ever, Quantum of Solace, in which a bunch of corporations, eco-businesses, military hardmen and Western politicians are presented as members of a secret criminal cartel who are trying to take over Bolivia’s water reserves. Now this basically happened in the real world. The film depicts it as an evil secret conspiracy that MI6 wants to stop. It also depicts Quantum as sneakily damming up loads of water to create an artificial shortage. But it basically connects with the real world, albeit distantly. It’s far more connected to the real world than anything in the follow-up movie Skyfall (which is total shit, by the way, both politically and as entertainment). Quantum of Solace also connects with the idea that powerful Western interests are behind politically-motivated Right-wing coups in South America… which is just one of those things that any sensible person takes for granted as an established historical truth, but which the mainstream media treats as a bizarre revelation. But Quantum of Solace at least acknowledges it. The movie puts the evil secret conspiratorial organisation behind such things rather than, y’know, the CIA and the US government… though it does have the CIA complicit in Quantum’s machinations, even if it is because one CIA guy is a rotten apple.
Is this subversive? Of course not. It’s gatekeeping. It acknowledges things about the real world that people either know about or strongly suspect. It then packages them in the classic methods of containment of such incendiary truths. Bad Apple Theory. …
You know the pre-titles sequence in For Your Eyes Only, in which Blofeld tricks Bond onto a remote-controlled helicopter?
Why does the vicar make the sign of the cross as Bond departs in the chopper?
If he knows something deadly is afoot, he must be in league with Blofeld, so either…
a) he’s not really a vicar but actually one of Blofeld’s men disguised as a vicar, or
b) he is an actual vicar who’s been paid by Blofeld to be part of his assassination conspiracy.
If a), why? And why doesn’t Bond ask about this new guy at the Church where Tracey is buried?
If b), why? What would induce a presumably average, ordinary, law-abiding vicar to team up with Blofeld? And also, why doesn’t he just shoot Bond in the graveyard?
And what does Blofeld need him for? Okay, he delivers the fake message about Bond being needed at HQ. But this is seemingly the only thing he does in the conspiracy (if he is indeed part of the conspiracy, as opposed to an innocent vicar who unwittingly relays a fake message) but the message could have been far more easily faked, given the apparent laxity of Bond’s precautions (he just accepts the message at face value without checking it in any way).
And I repeat: if he’s not a real vicar, why the religious sentiment with the sign of the cross?
And even if he is a real vicar, but an evil one who conspires to murder people with international gangsters, why is he still worried about giving Bond the last rites?
He’s either a genuine vicar with terrorist-connections and a deeply ambivalent and wildly fluctuating attitude to his faith, or a hood with a very dark sense of humour… and possibly a sardonic vein of anti-clericalism in his character.
Or… another possibility entirely… he’s a genuine vicar with the gift of second sight and a fatalistic attitude to the future.
Or he’s a genuine (if morally weak) vicar with the gift of second sight, and he hates James Bond for some reason… so much so that he opportunistically chooses to let Bond go to his death.
Or possibly he hates the helicopter pilot for some reason and opportunistically chooses to let him die.
That actually makes a lot more sense because, if he can see the future, that must mean that he knows that Bond will escape the trap and only the pilot and Blofeld will die. (It can’t be that he hates Blofeld because Blofeld isn’t there when he – the vicar – makes the sign of the cross, so there’d be no point.)
The only problem here is the implausibility of a specific guy who that particular vicar hates just happening to turn up at the vicar’s church in a helicopter on the day when he’s about to be murdered by Blofeld as part of an assassination conspiracy… but coincidences do happen.
As far as I can tell, this is by far the best explanation.…